Finding fairness in a high volume statutory ADR environment: observations from an Australian workcover conciliation service


Webster, Penny (2016) Finding fairness in a high volume statutory ADR environment: observations from an Australian workcover conciliation service. Journal of Mediation & Applied Conflict Analysis, 3 (2). pp. 137-150. ISSN 2009-7170

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Abstract

Pre-hearing compulsory Appropriate Dispute Resolution processes (ADR) is increasingly popular in the Australian judicial system, with expectations of achieving fair, quick and efficient resolution of disputes and a reduction in the number of lengthy expensive court based proceedings. While new jurisdictions are enthusiastically incorporating compulsory pre-hearing ADR there is little research on longstanding institutions. The private nature of these court annexed ADR processes can be an inherent weakness; allowing less rigorous use of ADR processes to go unchecked and potentially lessening achievement of substantive justice for individual appellants. In Victoria the Accident Compensation Conciliation Service (ACCS) conciliates all disputes between WorkCover insurers and workers as a compulsory step before proceedings can be taken in court. This paper seeks indicators of how well the ACCS is currently achieving the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013 (the Act)’s Objectives compared to historical outcomes by examining trends in new applications and resolution rates, and levels of human resources. These statistical trends are derived from 10 consecutive Annual Reports. Key areas explored include power imbalances, work intensification, fairness and selection of assessment criteria. This analysis found resolution rates are slowly declining and workloads are intensifying. Questions remain about how these trends will impact on public confidence in these justice processes and what is meant by ‘reasonable efforts to bring the parties to agreement’. Developing assessment criteria for conciliation processes is identified as a future industry wide project essential for the credibility of mandatory statutory ADR.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Finding fairness; high volume; statutory ADR environment; observations; Australian workcover conciliation service;
Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Institutes > Edward M Kennedy Institute
Item ID: 7922
Depositing User: Kennedy Institute
Date Deposited: 14 Feb 2017 15:56
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Mediation & Applied Conflict Analysis
Publisher: Maynooth Academic Publishing
Refereed: Yes
URI:

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